Director Eastwood tells the dark and ultimately sad story behind Joe Rosenthal's iconic 1945 photograph, the flag-raising by six soldiers at Iwo Jima, in his most ambitious outing to date. The government decides to whisk the three survivors home and use them on a nationwide war bonds drive, although only marine Rene Gagnon (Bradford) takes to the hoopla. Navy corpsman "Doc" Bradley (Phillippe) is haunted by the deaths and those left behind while alcoholic Pima Indian Ira Hayes (Beach) would rather fight than be subjected to the casual prejudice he constantly experiences. Successfully avoids the cliches and Hollywood conventions injected into most war stories, leaving room for surprise and genuine emotion. "Letters from Iwo Jima," also released in 2006, is Eastwood's companion film, told from the Japanese point of view.